Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Lending a hand

As a recent graduate who does not feel completely secure in their own job, I feel like a bit of an idiot right now.

When I was looking for a job I kept my contacts close. I didn't let any of my fellow design graduates know any name or email address that I had worked hard to get. Getting a job in design is often about the people you know, so I always felt that by giving away my contacts, I was giving away my job opportunities.

When I started to feel more secure, I allowed myself to help others. I shared email addresses, names of "easy to get" placements, I blacklisted placements not worth bothering with, I shared recruitment agency details, useful websites and blogs. I gave away all of my secrets. I was trying to help others avoid some of the pains that I went through in my long hunt for a job.

I didn't really realise how much I was "helping", until one friend called me to tell me about placements he had secured (all my contacts) and eventually a job he had secured, thanks to me. And whilst I understand that I wasn't at the interview and I didn't fill his portfolio with his work. I still feel as if I did too much to help him get that job, and I wonder if he feels that way too.

I worked hard for a solid year - I feel like I fought to get my job: I had dull placements, long placements, unpaid placements - I endured good and bad, learning a lot in my year's struggle. But by helping my friend I have potentially spared him of these pains, but I have also starved him of these experiences: and perhaps I have prevented him from becoming the junior designer he could have been.

Of course, I feel relieved for my friend, but at the same time, I hope I don't appear selfish when I say I hope they remember me when I need a helping hand. I might need it after this month.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Job Insecurity

When I was offered a job as a junior designer, I was given a 6 month probation period. Until this is over, I have no job security. I can be dismissed with a weeks' notice - chucked out onto the street as a failed designer and back in the dole office before you can say "useless graduate."

To be honest, it was going so well, I had almost forgotten that I had a probation period. I am literally spitting distance from the finish line. I was almost out of the tunnel - when I made a big mistake. 

The mistake is massive: I have created hours more work for my colleagues; I have screwed up.
My head is full of excuses: "I was rushed", "nobody told me not to", "I didn't know" -but I made a mistake and I can't do much about it now.
I didn't know any better and nobody else noticed - but I am frightened that this is the end for me at this company. I have messed up big time - and I didn't even realise...

Whilst I don't want to indulge in the dramatics of this, it has brought up some valid points. 
As a junior designer, I am still learning, and the reason I am paid less is because I know much less and I have less experience. Mistakes are bound to be made. But for one of this scale to happen shows that perhaps the problem is a much deeper one. Many people had seen my mistake before it was announced to be a mistake, but nobody noticed it so I do feel as though I am not solely responsible. But at what point do I become responsible for my own actions? 
- I have to ask questions and make sure I am clear about what I am doing and why, so gaps in my knowledge can be cemented over. I have to ask when I am unsure. Which is why every thing I do I get "signed off" before it leaves the studio.
So as far as I am concerned by consulting my seniors with the work, and trusting them to notice any mistakes, I have relinquished responsibility. But at the end of the day it was my mistake and I am going to have to take responsibility. It is my fault.

At least it has been a learning curve. I won't make the same mistake again. 
I just hope my colleagues still respect me and don't blame me for the hours of extra work they have been lumbered with.